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Marla Fibish demonstrates the family heirloom that has been a central part of her musical voice for over 30 years.

by Dan Gabel
July 06, 2017


Whether Marla Fibish is leading an Irish session in her native San Francisco Bay Area, playing original and traditional tunes and songs in Noctambule (her duo with husband Bruce Victor), or teaching Irish mandolin at well-known music camps like the Swannanoa Gathering, Lark Camp, and Mandolin Symposium, her 1922 Gibson A oval-soundhole mandolin is always close at hand. For over 35 years, Fibish has owned the mandolin that she fondly recalls her grandfather playing in the 1960s and ‘70s, and it has become a key element of her musical voice.


Gibson A models from this era are a common choice in Irish music circles, despite the mandolin being a relative newcomer to the music. As Marla demonstrates, Gibson A models have a characteristic ringing tone and sustain that fits in well with the more traditional instruments like fiddles, pipes, and button accordions that have long been found in Irish music.


In this video, Fibish talks about how she came to own the family heirloom, the origin of much of the wear on the instrument’s top, her preferred setup, and the pick she’s used for over 15 years. She also plays the Irish jig, Humours of Ballyloughlin.


To hear more of Marla playing this mandolin, check out Noctambule's new album, The Waking. Also watch Noctambule play a version of the album's "If I Could Tell You" in the Peghead Nation video studio.





Category: Instruments & Gear

Comments and Discussion

Posted by Jill O'Kelly on
I just read on line... I think she owns a mandolin that my dad once owned. He's since passed away... his name was Terry H. Alciati. Just an interesting woman.
Posted by Christian HUDELOT on
Thanks for sharing
Très jolie histoire. Belle des cription de cette Gibson de 1922. Et une interprétation qui donne envie d'en entendre davantage. Un très grand merci.
Posted by Pat Conlon on
Ah, Marla; great story and an awesome jig. Thanks, kid!
Posted by Michael Gapter on
Loved that! Such a fan of Irish Jigs. Hopefully we will see a lot more of Marla playing and teaching.

Posted by Annette Siegel on
Lovely! Just Lovely! Thanks so much for putting this together Dan and hopefully we'll be having Marla Irish Mandolin online classes in the future on Peghead Nation! :-)

Annette Siegel
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Nov 24, 2020
A great mandolin duet of Sarah Jarosz’s original tune, recorded live at the Marshall Mandolin Summit.

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